Former Trump aide Navarro says he has received a grand jury subpoena related to Jan. 6

Former Trump aide Navarro says he has received a grand jury subpoena related to Jan. 6


Peter Navarro, a former White House aide to Donald Trump, says he’s been served a grand jury subpoena by federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6 insurrection — and claims they have asked for records of “any communications” with the former president.

In a draft lawsuit that Navarro began circulating Monday, the former Trump trade adviser said “two FBI special agents banged loudly on my door in the early morning hours” on May 26 and served him a subpoena signed by Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C.

Navarro declined to provide a copy of the subpoena and claimed in the draft lawsuit that it was connected to his refusal to testify to the Jan. 6 select committee, which issued a congressional subpoena for his testimony in February. The House in April recommended that the Justice Department charge Navarro with contempt of Congress. But it would be unusual if a grand jury subpoena were related to his potential contempt case, since he would likely be the target of such a probe and less likely to be asked for testimony.

Another select committee witness, Steve Bannon, was charged with contempt last year for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena. He did not receive a grand jury subpoena before his charges were filed.

Navarro, who is not represented by a lawyer, said he intends to file his proposed lawsuit, an 88-page complaint that lists Graves, the select committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi among the defendants, on Tuesday morning.

According to Navarro, the grand jury subpoena directs him to appear for June 2 testimony and to produce any documents that would shed light on his refusal to testify to congressional investigators in February. The demand for documents, he says, include records of any contacts he had with Trump or the former president’s attorneys.

A grand jury subpoena for Navarro would be the most aggressive known step that prosecutors have taken into Trump’s West Wing related to Jan. 6. There have long been indications, though, that federal prosecutors have been laying the groundwork for a broader probe into Trump’s inner circle to examine their role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election — and stoking the violence that ensued Jan. 6, 2021.

Ali Alexander, the founder of the Stop the Steal group that organized events that preceded the mob attack on the Capitol that day, said last month he’s received a grand jury subpoena. And there are indications that prosecutors are pursuing efforts by Trump and his allies to send false sets of presidential electors to Congress, an element of a multifaceted plan to convince state legislatures, congressional Republicans and then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election.

Navarro refused to comply with the select committee in February, responding by email with the words “executive privilege” and telling them he was operating without an attorney. In email exchanges over several weeks, Navarro repeatedly urged the committee to negotiate with Trump and convince him to “waive” executive privilege.

The select committee replied that it had no evidence Trump had asserted any privileges to prevent Navarro’s testimony or production of documents, and they said they he was still required to show up and could assert privilege on a question-by-question basis. The panel also informed Navarro they would pursue lines of questioning they believed would not be subject to any claims of privilege by the former president. Navarro still refused to appear.

In the meantime, Navarro issued multiple public statements and gave media interviews about the same subjects he declined to address with the select committee. Ultimately, he declined to show up for his scheduled deposition at the beginning of March.

The House’s contempt recommendation against Navarro has been pending at DOJ since early April. The department took less than three weeks to charge Bannon with contempt but has given no public indication how it views the select committee’s subsequent contempt referrals, including ones for Navarro, Scavino and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Navarro was one of the first White House officials to openly embrace Trump’s campaign to delegitimize the results of the election. Although he was also tasked with a role in the administration’s Covid response, he used the post-election period to produce a report echoing Trump’s false allegations of fraud, which Trump quickly praised and began citing.

Later, Navarro and Bannon partnered on a strategy to overturn the election on Jan. 6, dubbing it the “Green Bay sweep.” Navarro, who wrote about it in his book, “In Trump Time,” claims to have coordinated with numerous GOP lawmakers to object to the results of the election that day, when Congress was constitutionally required to count electoral votes and thereby finalize Joe Biden’s victory.

Navarro spends the bulk of his complaint contending that Trump’s assertion of executive privilege over former advisers should be given more weight than Biden’s decision, as the sitting president, to waive it. It’s become a familiar argument in lawsuits brought by Trump allies against the select committee, including Bannon, Meadows and Scavino.

However, a federal appeals court ruled in January that even if Trump were still in office, the investigation of the attack on the Capitol — and Trump’s parallel effort to overturn the election — would overcome executive privilege for documents connected to that investigation. The Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Navarro says that if the select committee succeeds in overcoming Trump’s privilege claims, “just imagine what will happen to Joe Biden and his advisers if Republicans win both the White House and House in 2024.”

“In fact, I don’t need to imagine this repeat of the strategic game,” Navarro writes. “If I’m not dead or in prison, I will lead the charge.”

The select committee has noted that even in cases where potential privileges exist, witnesses are still typically required to appear and invoke them, and to answer questions that aren’t covered by privilege — such as Navarro’s contacts with members of Congress, Bannon or other pre-Jan. 6 actors. Several witnesses have come forward and pleaded the Fifth Amendment under these circumstances, including attorney John Eastman, former high-ranking Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone.

Navarro said he considered pleading the Fifth but viewed it as a “dishonorable” way to avoid criminal charges.

In his draft lawsuit, prospectively dated June 1, Navarro asks the federal district court of Washington, D.C. to prohibit the Justice Department from “enforcing Grand Jury Subpoena #GJ2022052590979,” a reference to the subpoena’s official serial number. He describes it as “derivative” of the select committee’s subpoena.

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: